A silly story- just a little serious. Originally posted on ff.net.
She looked over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow at a rather reluctant, if not irritated, Perrault.
"Is something wrong, Master Perrault?" she asked. He looked rather...strange.
"Nothing, Your Highness," he replied quickly. "Just a bit uncomfortable."
November fought back a giggle. "Are you afraid of the water?"
Perrault's feature became unreadable, but November thought that this eyes held a mild threat.
"Not at all, but I need not think to remind you that cats do not like water," he said smoothly.
November nodded. "Of course."
She sighed and walked away from the water, sitting herself carefully on another sand dune, this one closer to the ocean. She gazed at the rolling waves, a lazy smile coming across her face as she remembered the stories of mermaids and an underwater garden that belonged to an octopus.
November peered out of the corner of her eye when a shadow settled across her lap. Perrault sat next her, shifting sand through his ungloved fingers. They sat in silence, staring at the sea.
"Where's Red?" November asked.
The corners of Perrault's mouth twitched. "No doubt off on her own causing some form or another of destruction."
November looked around and stopped. She heard a sharp intake of breath from beside her. They had found Red, in her underdress, ready to dive off a rock. Red undid her braid and pushed off of the rock, diving perfectly as if she had done this many times in her childhood. She cut through the water smoothly, a delicate fish darting through the water. Then, in one stroke, she pushed down deeper and disappeared.
November looked over at Perrault, to gauge some reaction, but he was, seemingly, disinterested. November sighed and closed her eyes briefly. The smell of salt and the fierce warmth of the sun brought back distant memories of coming down to the beach every other summer with her mother and sisters, and one summer her father had come along as well.
November brushed a few unruly strands of red hair out of her face. "I remember..."
Perrault tilted his head slightly in her direction, silently prompting her.
"I remember," she began once more, "this story that my father had told my sisters and I. It was about a mermaid that lived in the sea and shared an underwater garden with an octopus."
Perrault grinned. "A childhood fancy."
November nodded. "Yes. It was a fancy, but I thought it was real. I was told that the mermaid was beautiful, but wasn't shaped quite like a human woman was, and was thought to be mean and stupid because she never smiled and always tried to take a human child. She couldn't have children."
Red's face broke the water's surface, head thrown back and retrieving air before diving back in.
November wrapped her arms around her legs. She spoke softly, "I was told that she was friends with the octopus because he was kind to her when no one else was. He let her play in his garden and sleep there whenever she wished."
Red emerged from the water and climbed onto a dry rock. She wringed water from her hair and pulled it back with some difficulty. She wringed areas of her underdress before slipping her heavy, black dress over her head and yanked on her stockings. Without a word she jumped down onto the sand and then tugged on her boots and pulled her hood over her head, shielding her brown eyes from them.
November slowly got up and went to join her companion, soon followed by Perrault. They walked away, silence coiling and thoughts of lost mermaids finding their way to the octopus' garden under the sea.